April is always one of the best months in sports simply for what's going on. Baseball season is beginning, the NBA and NHL playoffs are just getting going, March Madness rolls over into April; for those of you in college towns, spring football holds their first practices and of course the NFL Draft.
With that said, a lot has gone in CuseAdelphia during the month of April. Six CuseAdelphia teams are in action and winning. Now this post comes in May, the day of the 76ers elimination from the playoffs, but the Sixers reached the playoffs for the first time in several years.
The 76ers, the Flyers, and Syracuse Lacrosse are all having tremendous bounce back years after terrible 2007s for those teams.
The 76ers completed only a five game turnaround, but their late season surge through March and April put them in the playoffs for the first time since 2005. The youthful bunch of players created some lasting memories with Andre Iguodala's thunderous slams down the lane and Thaddeus Young's emergence.
The Sixers under new GM Ed Stefanski reached the playoffs looking to pull off an absolute shocker by taking down the two seeded Detroit Pistons. Things looked good early for the 76ers after Game One. A frenetic comeback in the Motor City meant Philly would head into Game Two with a 1-0 lead.
Game Two ugly. Sixers lose badly.
Game Three. Things are much different. Mo Cheeks' crew figures out what they did in the second half of Game One and blow the Pistons out of the gym.
Then things got ugly. Really ugly again. For the next three games it would be terribly ugly.
The Pistons outscored the Sixers by 19 points in the second half of their Game Four win. Game Five was domination all game; Pistons by 17.
Game Six was the worst of all. The 76ers season was officially declared dead at 8:12 PM EST. A 10-0 lead for the Pistons was essentially as close as Philly would get the rest of the game, Pistons win by 23.
Syracuse Lacrosse has also made a very solid turnaround. After a 5-8 season in 2007, the Orange rebounded in 2008 in impressive fashion. SU finished April undefeated, beating their opponents on average 14-6.
The Orange have dominated behind the likes of Tewaaraton Trophy nominees Mike Leveille and Steven Brooks. Leveille has a team leading 61 points while Brooks has anchored the midfield all year. In goal, John Galloway has played increasingly well as the year has gone on.
The 'Cuse capped off the perfect April with an absolute handling of recent pain in the UMASS 16-3. The Orange scored the first nine goals of the game and scored more goals in each quarter than UMASS had the entire game.
Philadelphia's team in orange- the Flyers - also completed the best turnaround in the NHL this year. The Fly Guys were last, dead last in the entire NHL in 2007, but managed to reach the playoffs as the sixth seed in the East.
Being the sixth seed is one of the best seeds you can be in the playoffs. Often the third division winner is always barely worthy of the playoffs, and this year was pretty much no different. The Capitals needed a long winning streak at the end of the year to reach the playoffs, but that streak ended at the hands of the Flyers.
Seven games, several blown leads, one Alexander Ovechkin explosion, and one Daniel Briere goal scoring binge later the Flyers were moving onto the next round.
Now throw in four more games, three of which are Philly wins, lots of angry Canadians, some more blown leads, no Briere scoring binge, but rather one by R.J. Umberger and you get a 3-1 series lead against the Montreal Canadiens.
One CuseAdelphia team already has won a title. The Syracuse women's Lax team took home a Big East Championship in South Bend in dominating fashion. A 22-7 blow out followed by a 12-6 victory over rival Georegtown and the women have an automatic berth to the NCAA tournament.
Basically every scoring record you think of, Tewaaraton trophy nominee Katie Rowan broke it.
Two CuseAdelphia teams used April to get off to extremely solid starts.
The Phillies finished out April 15-13. Now that doesn't seem too impressive, but when you look at their past four Aprils, it's rather impressive. 11-14 in 2007, 10-14 in 2006, 10-14 in 2005, 10-11 in 2004. You get the picture.
The Phillies did it in probably the most improbably way: great pitching from both the starters and bullpen. The entire staff has posted a combined ERA of 3.79, the lowest its been in years.
The relievers have been much better; the Phillies' pen ranks first in the National League in ERA. J.C. Romero, Brad Lidge, Chad Durbin, Rudy Seanez, and Tom Gordon (minus the first week) have been lights out.
Cole Hamels is throwing his name in the hat for Cy Young during the early season with his 2.70 ERA and 36 strike outs in April.
Chase Utley and Pat Burrell have provided MVP moments throughout the entire month as the two are near the top of practically every offensive category. Utley ends the month with a major league leading 11 home runs.
The team that plays across the parking lot, the Philadelphia Soul of the AFL has been blistering hot. Two QB's Tony Graziani and Matt D'Orazio have combined for astronomical numbers in leading the Soul to an undefeated record through April.
Bon Jovi's team finished off the month with a 57-28 romping over the previously undefeated Dallas Desperados. Philly held Dallas scoreless in the first quarter, a monumental task in of itself.
The other football team in Philadelphia just completed the 2008 NFL draft with some disputed success. The Eagles set themselves up for a monster 2009 draft with the acquisition of the Panthers 2009 first round pick. The Iggles also got another second round pick in the same deal when trading away their first round pick to Carolina.
Now the Eagles only got one player that will have an immediate impact this year with DeSean Jackson, but it's still a major accomplishment to get one of the most explosive players in the draft half way through the second round.
The Birds also grabbed DT Trevor Laws who's a workhorse on the defensive line.
The later round picks weren't anything special, but the Eagles overall had a solid draft.
No matter how good all of CuseAdelphia's teams did, there's going to be a few bad notes that cannot go unmentioned.
In the same NFL draft, no members of the Orange heard their names called for the first time since 1975. Taj Smith, Jameel McClain, DoWayne Davis, and several others eventually found a home, but it wasn't for NFL draft level money.
Orange fans also learned they might hear the name of one of the fabulous freshmen from the 2007-2008 seasons. Donte' Greene declared he's making himself eligible for the 2008 NBA draft, but he left some hope for Orange fans when he didn't sign an agent.
Greene's team also found themselves sitting at home from the NCAA Tournament and NIT Tournament finals which both took place in April.
Finally on a sad note, we remember John Marzano who was found dead in South Philly home. The cause of his death hasn't been revealed yet.